Writing a Better Science Proposal: A Workshop for PostDocs and Assistant ScientistsJames F. Price
Physical Oceanography Department
The premise of the workshop
We all have worthwhile ideas for our research; the question is, how are we going to pay for it? In most cases the immediate answer is that we have to write a research proposal, a formal, written document that describes our scientific goals and research plan and solicits the necessary resources from a funding agency. Our proposal will be just one among many worthy proposals, and these days the sum of resources requested collectively often exceeds the resources actually available by a factor of five to ten. More to the point then, we have to write a research proposal that will in some way standout and succeed in a very competitive funding environment.
Writing such a proposal requires a great deal of thought and hard work, most of which is necessarily directed at issues that are highly technical and discipline-specific. The technical/scientific idea developed within a proposal is certainly its most important aspect and is something that we will discuss at length during the workshop. Nevertheless, about half of the proposals that founder do so on issues that are not strictly technical or discipline-specific but that are, in a significant sense, scientific in so far as the scientific process seeks to develop knowledge that must be communicated, evaluated and consolidated in the public domain. The starting premise of this workshop is that many of these non-technical (but scientific) shortcomings can be mitigated, and the odds for our proposal thereby improved, if we write our proposal with an understanding of who and how our proposal will be judged. This is the aspect of proposal writing that is most emphasized in this syllabus.
(Click on the link at right for the entire PDF of syllabus.)